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NaNo Prep Time

Published October 21, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

 

writer

Can you believe it’s almost November? o.0 That means NaNoWriMo is coming up in less than two weeks. It also happens to begin the same day I consider to be the start of the Christmas season, and I don’t even mind dodging the angry fruit you pre-Christmas haters want to throw at me. I’ll make Christmas fruitcake from it. ^_~

A lot of prep-work goes into the month of October to make sure that I stay focused on my project. It isn’t always easy, so aside from the usual tactics—like limiting social media, upping caffeine abuse, etc.—I’ve introduced several other helpful tricks into my October planning. They help to maintain my sanity and allow me to be prepared for NaNo so I’m not scrambling at the eleventh hour to accomplish last minute tasks.

The Hobbit Hole

I try to cram as many social engagements and catch-up phone calls with friends into October because I will basically be a hermit starting November 1st. Social calls may resume on December 1st, and please bring coffee to the creature with the blood-shot eyes and the hands that phantom-type words onto an invisible keyboard.

tom and jerry sleepy

Writing Inspiration Playlist

Whatever is on this playlist basically becomes the only music I listen to during November. Although it keeps you in the write mindset *laughs hysterically at vague joke*, listening to the same music nonstop for 30 days can make you want to turn on all the fans, have the popcorn maker going, and crank a blow-dryer on high to drown out the same loop of songs. Since these noisy distractions can be counter-productive—and send your energy bill skyrocketing—I make sure to have variation on my playlist and create it before November begins. Don’t waste time scrambling to design a playlist late in the game; save yourself the trouble and do it beforehand so you can dive into your story Nov. 1st with the perfect background inspiration guiding your fingers.

old piano

Goodies on my playlist:

~ “Meet Me in the Woods” by Lord Huron

~ “Running if You Call My Name” by Haim

~ “All We Ever Knew” by The Head and the Heart

~ “Dreamers” by Oh Gravity (thanks to Katie Grace leading me onto it!)

~ Pride and Prejudice soundtrack

Limit Your Social Media

It’s a given, but as much as I love chatting with friends online or sharing photos of books on Instagram (see what I’m reading here), I can’t let myself fall into the social media rabbit hole during NaNo. I’ve made the mistake of spending more time chatting about my manuscript progress than actually writing it, or adding to my novel board on Pinterest.

Ways to stave off the decent into the rabbit hole:

~Prepare blog posts beforehand. It’s a lot of work, but you don’t want to stress blogging deadlines while trying to nail your word count. You can always fine-tune them later!

~Plot, plot, plot. Now, you know I’m a plotting-pantser and can’t stand to box myself in, but having a good idea of sequencing and character development for your 50,000 words gives you a goal to hit and helps to keep your focus to stave off the call of the web.

~Have a cache of photos on your phone to post on Instagram the days when there just isn’t time to stage a book tower.

~Create templates for social media posts on FB and Twitter, and consider having pics selected on Pinterest to add text from your MS to as you go along (use a formatter like PicMonkey). I have a few that I’m considering using next month that you can check out on my Jungle Princess Pinterest board

Creative Detox

Although it’s incredibly important to stay on-task and in the writing mindset during November, you can’t spend every single moment at your computer. Instead of losing your head, try to find activities that allow you to take a mental break while still encouraging your creativity.

reading

Ways to keep your sanity while maintaining your creative mindset:

~Go on a walk to clear your head and think about your story. Your brain will get a cramp if you don’t give it some fresh air!

~Take a nap listening to your writing playlist, or paste a chapter of your work in progress into a text-audio reader (like AlReader or NaturalReader). You can rest those tired eyes and get in some extra editing by hearing your writing out loud.

~If you want to escape into a book or film, do it! Treat yourself after a hard-fought day of writing to a mental getaway, but consider entertainment that is about writers or books, or even ones that just generally put you in a happy mental place so you can return to your manuscript creatively recharged and inspired. I’ll have a post up soon with some recommendations for my favorite writing-centered entertainment.

Now that the prep-work is set and the playlists have been created, it’s time for the most important part of NaNo: Go write that novel!

writing

 

 

 

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Where Does the Joy Go?

Published October 15, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

As the years pass, where does the joy go? The earth hasn’t changed, the world doesn’t play more unfairly than it did before, and the sun and stars are still constant. So what changed to make the spark disappear?

wander

I was inspired to write this post after I heard someone say, “Life just loses its sparkle as you get older.” I wanted to respond with, Life is wonderful, how can you say that? But later on that night, I realized that, tragically, this can be true. The reality of adulthood takes over—less free time, bills, responsibilities up the wazoo (and using the word wazoo is no longer “age appropriate”), broken hearts, stress, deadlines. If you let them, these things will slowly leech the joy and adventure from life so that you’re just living each day on autopilot, waiting for it to be over so it can inevitably begin again. The day-to-day becomes tedious, and eventually, the dawn turns into something that you dread.

This harsh reality really bothered me, and I wondered why it should be that the joy and excitement of life should end because a new chapter of life begins. But does it really? I began to realize that the magic that exists in the world doesn’t disappear, rather we let the cares of this life distract us to the point that we’re too exhausted to look for it when it seems scarce.

the heavens declare the glory of god

As children, everyday seemed to hold a bit of mystery and excitement, but we’ve become too focused on more money and success, the idea that maybe a different relationship or occupation would complete us, or a million dollars would solve all our problems (or an extra 8 hours in the day to write my work in progress *cough*). That’s not to say a few of these things wouldn’t be nice, but it’s untrue that our lives would be perfect or “complete” because of these fleeting things. Discontentment breeds jealousy and greed and a restlessness that nothing can satisfy. I’m not exempt from the “if-only” idea, but I am a firm believe in the magic of everyday things and the hope that it produces, and the excitement of a new adventure.

incredible carl sagan

I have to admit that I’ve never understood people when they say that the love between them and another “simply died.” Call me naïve, but the only way that can happen is if no one tries to save it. Love is like a flower—you have to care for it so that it continues to grow and flourish, even if it isn’t as young and beautiful as it once was; if you ignore it and forget it exists, it will die. The same goes for the belief in the excitement that occurs in life: we have to choose to look for it, especially when it seems impossible to find because that’s when we need a bit of magic the most.

 

the best view hardest climb

Just this week I was having a difficult time finding that spark of joy after a tough week of stress and feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. I was sitting there in traffic, grumbling about the sun in my eyes, and then as I glared at it for another minute, I suddenly saw how beautiful the sunset was. I had spent the entire drive home complaining about something that, since I would have been caught in traffic anyway, should have been enjoyed. The rising and setting of the sun is some of the most obvious magic you can find, and I had almost let it pass by unnoticed because I was too caught up in the bustle of life, the competition to get one more car ahead so I could race home to—what? Drudge the next day?

Nuh-uh.

awfully big adventure peter pan

God did not put us on this earth to work ourselves to death earning money that disappears all too quickly and to lament each day He’s given us. Every morning our eyes open is a miracle, and my challenge to you this week is to remind yourself to seek out the miracle in today. Easier said than done, right? Trust me, I’ve been there and am still there sometimes, struggling to find the joy in the things that exist around me. But it’s there, even in the small things—the leaves shifting color, the falling rain against a window, meeting a writing deadline, a new dawn brining with it a clean slate. And when you feel you can’t see the magic, be bold and create your own! Climb a mountain, explore the sea, take a long drive with the windows down while the rain is pouring, find a new bookstore (umm , bibliophile!), try something you’ve never done before. This life was intended for us to learn and explore and live it. We just have to choose to keep our eyes and hearts open to the magic of the everyday and to not let our sparkles—our inner light—die out.

So, where does the joy go? It’s been there all along, though it shifts forms like a chameleon and is sometimes tricky to spot. But if you keep on the lookout for it, the world might surprise you.

The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life, Vol. 2

Published May 5, 2017 by Ashley Townsend

The Fangirl’s Guide to Navigating Life, Vol. 2:

Surviving a Series Ender

You’re incredibly excited about a new series, devour every book in the same week it releases, and proudly display every piece of book-swag you received for your dedication. And as you’re shedding joyous tears over the last page of the story and thinking about what new pins to add to your character boards, it suddenly hits you: That’s it, there are no more books left in the series. You’ve read them all like a manic without considering the fact that one day they would come to an end. Now all you’re left with is the memories of the story and a future that stretches out before you like a dark abyss.

shock horror.gif

brain is crying

We’ve all been there, although maybe your experience wasn’t quite as dramatic as this. But that’s neither here nor there.

It’s okay to hide in a dark hole for a short time and hope that the author decides to write another book in the series, but let’s be real: YOU NEED SUNLIGHT! And a shower, and food, and to give your cramping hands a break after holding a book for so long (most commonly obtained from books by Cassandra Claire and Sarah J. Maas). To help you overcome the tragedy that is the conclusion of a fabulous series—the pain, the agony, the tears!!—I’ve created a list of a few tried and true techniques to help you move past the crushing disappointment of the end of a book era. Because, seriously, you need emotional support after this.

feelings

-Feast on chocolate and/or (but especially “and”) ice cream

. . . . I’m sorry, is an explanation even necessary? I think not!!!!!

-Buy a shock blanket

shock blanket

Trust me, you’re going to need this

Drink all the coffee!!

For staying awake to search the online fandom pages and Pinterest boards to feel closer to the characters after it’s over. Better yet, just buy a plantation so you can grow your own beans. It’s a worthy investment.

Find a fandom candle

captain hook candle

In the Wick of Time and Flickering Fandoms make amazing candles inspired by so many different books and characters. You’ll fall in love and be reminded of your favorite characters every time you smell it!

-Music, baby

Accept the fact that “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. and Simon and Gafunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” are a part of life now. (Best paired along with the shock blanket and candle, also tested by me.)

-Create a Pinterest Board

 

napoleon dynamite typing

Strange as it seems, searching the web for images that inspire memories of the books-gone-by makes you feel like the characters haven’t left you entirely and helps with the healing process.

And the most important I’ve-lost-my-way technique:

-BUY A NEW BOOK!!!

richard excited face

Trust me, the best way to get over the end of an amazing series is to wash the tears from your face, swap out those Nutella-stained sweatpants for some jeans, and get back in the bookstore. You never know what magic awaits you! *hums the tune to “Back in the Saddle Again”*

Defying Shadows & Amazon Giveaway!

Published July 19, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

IT’S FINALLY HAPPENING!

Defying Shadows will release in paperback this week!

excitedAt the end of THIS week, both the final book and the first book in the Rising Shadows Trilogy will release in paperback for the first time. I am so flippin’ excited to have them on my shelf!!! Rising Shadows (Book I in the trilogy) got a cover makeover for its paperback release, so I’ll send updated Amazon links out soon when its beauteous self is re-released and Defying Shadows is up for purchase. *dreamy sigh*

gif

I feel like this has been a long time in coming, and I know you’re all dying to have your questions answered: Will Sarah go home? Do she and Will belong together? What is Damien’s end-game in all of this, and is he still working for some evil power? And is Sarah’s presence in the past changing history?

Well, you’ll just have to find out when Defying Shadows comes out. *cackles evilly* 

BUT, if you can’t wait until your paycheck arrives or until Defying Shadows releases, you can enter to be first on the list for a copy. That’s right, in celebration of this momentous occasion, I’m hosting a Rafflecopter for a paperback of Defying Shadows and an Amazon gift card. You can enter to win everyday by sharing, liking, tweeting, following, etc, so keep stopping by. And pay attention to social media for the link each day.

(Enter the Rafflecopter here. Active 7-19-16 through 7-24-16 Details at the bottom of post for secondary prize)

The Rafflecopter is one way to enter, but if you don’t win the grand prize, don’t lose heart! There will be a HUGE release party on Friday, August 5th on Facebook/your living room. Join and invite others for the epic 2-hour event where I’ll be giving away even more prizes (books, swag, gift cards) and entertain you all with games, excerpts from the series, activities, quizzes, and plenty of fun goodness. Click the link below to join.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1758515104431491/

And there are ebooks of the series up for grabs during the term of the Rafflecopter. Each social media share and post/re-post earns you an entry toward the secondary prizes. From 7-19 through 7-24, tag @TownsendTales and use any of the following hashtags: #TeamHood #DefyingShadows #DefyingShadowsBook #TeamWill #TeamDamien #DSBook. You can post anywhere–Instagram (follow me here), Twitter, Facebook, on your blog, Pinterest–just make sure to use one or more of these hashtags and tag me in it. I’ll calculate total entries after the giveaway ends on the 25th, and there will be one random winner selected from–I’m very high-tech here–a hat. More shares equals more entries, which increase your odds of winning. So share away!

What are you waiting for?! Follow the link below and enter to win the Grand Prize each day until it ends at 11:59pm on Sunday, July 24th. And as always, don’t forget to share this link with your friends who enjoy free stuff…. What am I saying? Who doesn’t enjoy freebies?! Good luck, Hooders, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/efc81f6e2/?

Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

Published February 6, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 2: Overcoming the “Block”

As you saw in Part 1 of this series, there are many different types of writers, and I’d like to think that no two authors are exactly the same. Yet we all react to writer’s block in similar ways, which is unavoidable no matter what writing technique you use (Plotting, Pantsing, or Plotting-Pantsing). If you aren’t familiar with this term of torture, then, hello! Welcome back to earth, because clearly you were kidnapped by aliens and have been held hostage for some time and haven’t been paying attention to Pinterest series about Writer’s Problems. But if this is the case and you were abducted by extraterrestrials, then I am truly sorry and want to educate you on one of the few negatives of writing.
block

Common side effects of writer’s block include, but are not limited to:

anxiety

(noun: distress or uneasiness of the mind)

  1. I feel such anxiety because my deadline is near and I can’t seem to pull myself together and get over this dreaded block. . . . And when did my fairytale romance suddenly become a sci-fi theater drama with space buffalos?!

hair loss, due to it being pulled from ones scalp in irritation (see definition of  

anxiety above)

frustration

(noun: a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems)

binge-watching

(verb: a brief period of excessive indulgence)

This unhealthy act generally concerns television when one would rather procrastinate than try to push through the aforementioned block.

How do I escape the block? By being a mature adult and just getting it done?

ace

 

By procrastinating, silly goose! Okay, so I have to admit that there are some days when I just have to push through and try to reach my goal, despite my creative—ahem—blockage. But, man, let me tell you, looking up procrastination gifs and memes on Pinterest can definitely be inspiring. Shocked, are we? Let me tell you how this process goes.

wrtiers

Step 1. Look up random pins on procrastination.

Step 2. Laugh hysterically, because they’re just so relatable.

Step 3. Spend 30 minutes scrolling through related pins that eventually lead to one

about actual writing.

Step 4. Find a random story pin that leads you toward a gaggle of images that inspire

a barrage of exciting story ideas that never before had you considered.

Step 5. WRITE!

Aaaaaand, voilá! Suddenly you have a thousand words flowing from your fingertips. That horrible time of doubt and mistrust that those fingers would ever produce anything meaningful again flees, and you’re left with, amazingly, a story.

mozart

But at the end of the day, after you’ve trekked your way over the hump and have found your groove once more, there is one truth that is universally acknowledged.

mal

This random post is brought to you by,

Little Miss Procrastination (I should be starting my next series, but instead I’m telling you how to procrastinate . . . the irony is not lost, my friends.)

Definitions taken from my handy dandy Webster’s Dictionary app!

Only 3 Days Left to Enter!

Published October 13, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

There are only 3 days left to enter the Chasing Shadows Rafflecopter Giveaway and earn entries for the social media prizes! (enter here) I’ve never done a Rafflecopter before, and so I was amazed at how many of you entered. I was also seriously flummoxed (word of the day that I’m pretty sure I’m using improperly–thanks, Dictionary app! ^_^) and excited over how much attention #TeamHood and #ChasingShadowsBook are getting on Pinterest and Twitter. You guys are seriously the best!  Mwah! Keep entering the Rafflecopter to win the Grand Prize and share the link around for your friends to enter, too.

You can use the tweets below during the week until this Friday, Oct 16th, at 11:59pm (PST) to spread word about the grand prize giveaway. Each tweet, share, and mention that leads back to me containing #TeamHood earns you one entry toward the 2 social media prizes (gift cards, books, ebooks, book swag, and more!). So keep sharing and entering the Rafflecopter until Friday, and stop by this weekend to see if your name is announced as one of 3 winners for the Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration!

RT! Enter to   &       

swag

RT! Ends 10-16. Enter below to win:       

RT to earn entries into the @TownsendTales

Ends Oct 16! Use & enter to win free @TownsendTales

#FanArtFriday Has Begun!

Published October 9, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

It’s happening! #FanArtFriday has officially commenced! Stop by here every Friday during the month of October, where I’ll be celebrating Chasing Shadows’ birth month with new fan art released every week, especially images created for the to-be-released Defying Shadows *gasps* EGAD! ^_^ You guys have been amazing in creating such gorgeous artwork for the Rising Shadows trilogy, and you can find all of it on Pinterest.

(And don’t forget that the Rafflecopter giveaway ends on October 16th, so you only have another week to enter here to win a copy of the book, gift cards, swag, and more!)

So without further ado, another glimpse at a never before excerpt of Defying Shadows!

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Defying Shadows 1

Maybe I’m the only one who grins like an idiot when I look at it, but it’s just so perfect. *squeals* I immediately contacted the artist to ask her if she would be willing to design the cover for Defying Shadows after this piece of fan art, because I am so obsessed with it, and she agreed. I cannot WAIT to get started on that project! Don’t forget to stop by again next Friday for more fan art, and in the meantime, keep entering the Giveaway, Tweeting and sharing with #TeamHood and @TownsendTales to enter the social media prizes.

Also, I just discovered another recent review for Chasing Shadows. Check out Sarah’s blog–it’s fabulous!

http://sarah-plainandaverage.blogspot.com/2015/10/book-review-chasing-shadows.html

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